Burnt Islands

Introduction

Burnt Islands is a small coastal community found in God Bay on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, Canada. It is 27 kilometres east from Port-aux-Basques. This community consists of an Island part and a Main that were connected by a causeway in 1969. The community is built on the rocky, barren coastline of the harbour. There are a lot of bogs and marshes on the surrounding countryside.

The climate for Burnt Islands is a maritime climate. We have fairly cool weather in the summer and somewhat mild temperatures in the winter caused by the moderating effects of the nearby ocean.. This area of the southwest coast is well known for its infamous winds that sometimes gust over 150 km. per hour.

The community is linked to the Trans Canada Highway by route 470 at Port aux Basques. From Port aux Basques, known as the Gateway to Newfoundland, Burnt Islands is linked by the Marine Atlantic ferries to Nova Scotia and mainland Canada.

History

Burnt Islands like many Newfoundland coastal communities developed around the fishery. The sheltered harbour and proximity to rich fishing grounds were the principal factors in attracting early fishermen to this area between 1839-1841. The first recorded settlers settled on what is locally known as the Main in 1839, while families settled the Island part in 1841.

Throughout the late1800's and well into the 1900's the community continued to thrive with many business firms establishing in the area providing goods, services and employment for people in the area. The community supported a lumber and glue industry at one time.

In 1968 the first fish processing plant was started by Eric King fisheries employing a large number of the towns residents and continuing to do so to the present day. Also it was in 1969 that the two main areas of settlement were linked together by a causeway making it the community of Burnt Islands we know today.

People

The population for Burnt Islands according to the 1996 census is 919, down over 100 from the 1991 census. This loss of population represents the collapse of the inshore fishery and the subsequent cod moratorium that came into effect in 1991, forcing many to leave the area in search of new economic opportunities.

The town of Burnt Islands is served by two schools, St. Georges Elementary that accommodates over 70 students in grades K - 6, and Grandy’s River Collegiate that accommodates 150 grade 7 - 12 students from Burnt Islands and the neighbouring town of Rose Blanche.